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A curse for Maa Parvati or a boon for us? Visit to Ekambareswar Temple

Significance of Temples

Every tem­ple offers a unique expe­ri­ence based on how and why it is con­se­crat­ed. It is not fan­ta­sy or imag­i­na­tion that peo­ple’s prayers are answered and wish­es grant­ed when they vis­it tem­ples. The archi­tec­ture-vas­tu, mate­ri­als used to sculpt the mur­ti, the pratish­ta process and the pur­pose that the yaja­mana has imag­ined for the tem­ple all put togeth­er cre­ate an ambi­ence for the devo­tee to expe­ri­ence the ben­e­fits. You might have heard about or vis­it­ed the nava­pashana mur­ti of Muru­gan at Palani or the sand lingam of Natadeeswarar tem­ple. Many of the South Indi­an tem­ples are con­se­crat­ed by the sid­dhas though the grand out­er struc­tures are done by the kings, devo­tees or admin­is­tra­tors.

Of these, the kula deva­ta has a spe­cial sig­nif­i­cance. The devi or deva­ta is the fam­i­ly’s ances­tor car­ing about the well-being every moment. It is not uncom­mon for fam­i­lies to get dreams of com­mands or requests by kula deivams on spe­cif­ic mat­ters. Even the fam­i­ly’s con­fu­sions and doubts get clar­i­fied in dreams. A vis­it to the kula deva­ta is assur­ing and calm­ing to the fam­i­ly. I have seen so many fam­i­lies set­tle down close to their kula deva­ta post retire­ment. Their only pur­pose is to do seva at the tem­ple and spread the mes­sage to as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble. The tem­ples of Tamil Nadu built by the Pallavas, Pandyas, Cholas, Naick­ers and oth­er dynas­ties are grand and have stood the test of time. Tem­ples were cen­ters of eco­nom­ic, edu­ca­tion­al, eco­log­i­cal and cul­tur­al activ­i­ties. We will soon be shar­ing a series of arti­cles on tem­ple archi­tec­ture in our blog.

Pancha Bhoota Sthala

There are lakhs of tem­ples in the coun­try. How­ev­er, some of them enjoy a spe­cial sig­nif­i­cance main­ly because of the shak­ti of the deva­ta com­ing from the con­se­cra­tion process. The Indi­an knowl­edge tra­di­tions recog­nise that the uni­verse is com­posed of five ele­ments and the man­i­fest is divine play and com­bi­na­tion of these ele­ments. Right from the macro­cosm to the micro­cosm, the pan­cha bhootas need to be bal­anced and the shi­va lin­gas assist this process. The pan­cha bhoo­ta stha­las in South India are at Kanchipu­ram — Prithvi Lingam (Earth), Thiru­van­na­malai- Agni Lingam (Fire), Thiru­van­naikaval- Apu Lingam (Water), Chi­dambaram- Akasha Lingam (Space) and Kala­hasti-Vayu Lingam (Wind). With the appro­pri­ate sad­hana one can expe­ri­ence the res­o­lu­tion of the bhootas with­in one­self. We hope to start offer­ing the Pan­cha Bhoo­ta stha­la yatra with rel­e­vant sad­hana. Seek­ing Shi­va peru­man’s bless­ings.

The Experience

When Adi­narayanan ji and I vis­it­ed Kanchipu­ram, we had an evening stroll and reached the ekambareswar/ekambaranathar temple.It was an unplanned vis­it as we were’nt sure if we would get enough time to vis­it the tem­ple. In my hum­ble expe­ri­ence, tem­ple vis­its do not hap­pen as per our plans. There have been numer­ous occa­sions when a dar­shan has been turned down and occa­sions when we had the smoothest and unex­pect­ed dar­shans.

The tem­ple is huge and the archi­tec­ture is bril­liant. Ini­tial­ly built by the cholas and expand­ed the vijayana­gara kings, the tem­ple com­plex is grand with tall gop­u­rams, pil­lars and sculp­tures. We read the stha­la­pu­rana on the sign board. We did a pradak­shi­na of the sacred man­go tree with­in the tem­ple and sat in one of the man­da­pams. The moment we sat there, both of us expe­ri­enced a deep sense of calm­ness and a sense of ground­ed­ness. It is dif­fi­cult to explain the feel­ing in words but it was a feel­ing of con­tent­ment, as if every­thing had set­tled and there was noth­ing else to do. Only to be! Have you seen that some­times you know some­thing but it does­n’t strike you because you weren’t pre­pared for the moment. Some­thing sim­i­lar hap­pened. Only after quite some walk­ing around thae tem­ple did we realise that we just had the dar­shan of a prithvi lingam. That explained the set­tled feel­ing and con­tent­ment. Does­n’t prithvi ground you? Amaz­ing expe­ri­ence. Sor­ry for the spoil­er! Expe­ri­ence it for your­self when you go there.

The Story

While wikipedia talks about a lot of leg­ends asso­ci­at­ed with the place, I para­phrase what was writ­ten on the board there. Shi­va peru­man was med­i­tat­ing deeply. Maa Par­vathi, in a play­ful mood, closed the eyes of Shi­va peru­man. The whole uni­verse plunged into dark­ness. One may won­der why the whole uni­verse will be affect­ed when Shi­va peru­man’s eyes were closed for a few microsec­ond. Have you seen how aware lead­ers are. They don’t miss a moment and if there is a moment of unaware­ness that is when any­thing may hap­pen-good or bad. Any­thing can hap­pen when you sneeze and close your eyes when you are dri­ving at top speed. A crude anal­o­gy but I think you get my point here. So imag­ine the case of some­one over­see­ing all the lokas. A microsec­ond is too pre­cious to miss.

For Maa Par­vathy to become aware of her actions and to be more mind­ful, Shi­va Peru­man cursed her to be born on earth. Maa Par­vathy made a lingam of the sand of veg­ha­vathi riv­er and wor­shipped it under a man­go tree. Shi­va peru­man appeared in front of her, embraced her and accept­ed her. Since he appeared from a sin­gle man­go tree he came to be known as ekam­bareswar. Geneti­cists have cloned the tree and a the new tree adorns a shrine of Shi­va peru­man and Par­vathi. It makes an ide­al spot for a des­ti­na­tion wed­ding.

This was not a curse but yet anoth­er leela of Shi­va Peru­man. Every occa­sion that Maa Par­vathy takes birth on earth is a bless­ing for all of us and Shi­va Peru­man’s vis­it is beyond words. May the leela con­tin­ue.

Pic­tures cred­it: Sh. Vijay Mis­try, Mum­bai

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